In light of the scandals and majority ownership of the PolyMet/Glencore proposed copper-nickel mine recently coming to light, Minnesotans must re-evaluate the kind of companies we want employing our citizens and controlling our water quality. The proposed mine, its water pollution permit, and PolyMet’s majority shareholder Glencore raise ethical and legal concerns that transcend both party lines and traditional economy-versus-environment debates.
Thanks to EPA whistleblowers and efforts by Rep. Betty McCollum and WaterLegacy, previously secret critiques by EPA regarding the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s permit for the mine have now been released. According to these EPA comments, the MPCA’s weak permit authorizes discharges that exceed Minnesota’s federally approved Clean Water Act standards. This legal inconsistency, which the MPCA apparently tried to keep hidden from the public, simply does not meet the standards Minnesota requires for such a high-impact project.
Of even greater moral concern is Glencore’s control of PolyMet. Not only did the Swiss-based company trade oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran during the embargo, it has a history of scandals and child-labor exploitation. Recently, at least 41 illegal miners were killed in the collapse of a Glencore mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“Illegal 'artisanal' miners killed in Glencore mine collapse,” June 27).
It is sensible to push for economic revitalization on the Iron Range. But with shady companies pulling strings behind the scenes, the proposed PolyMet mine is not the correct choice, neither ethically nor morally. Glencore’s history and the suppressed EPA comments raise concern for the safety of all Minnesotans. We deserve better.
Lydia S. Peterson